PC market back on track

Mass merchant sales have driven PC growth to an all-year high, with notebook sales in particular going through the roof.

The latest figures from market analyst Inform show that the notebook sector experienced its biggest level of growth ever over May - up 75 per cent year on year and 20 per cent on April figures. In fact, notebook sales accounted for a quarter of the PC market in May, according to Inform.

The surprising thing about the May figures is that sales were largely driven through retail chains. Mass merchants recorded 43 per cent growth on the previous month overall.

"Usually we expect more from corporate resellers towards the end of the financial year," said Inform research director Chris Herbert. "But the large retailers were the big winners this time."

That's not to say the corporate market performed poorly. It grew 7 per cent on April and accounted for 35 per cent of the indirect PC market in May.

"The mass merchants have been very strong for us, but so have the other segments -- they are all firing at the moment," said Mark Whittard, Toshiba's national marketing manager.

Whittard believes consumers are increasingly favouring notebooks.

"These days there is no technical reason to buy a desktop over a notebook," he said. "The price gap has closed significantly this year, which I think is one of the reasons we have done so well in the mass merchant channel."

Among the vendors, the Compaq brand maintained its lead in the total PC market, followed by HP, IBM and Toshiba.

Intel Pentium 4 machines accounted for 47 per cent of PCs sold during May.

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